Tag Archives: Scripture

The Bible for Travelers

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Maybe Hotels could put that little Blue Book in their rooms? Or, better yet, we could leave the books in the drawers and read the Great Book of Nature.

Via Friendly Atheist, this LA Times story has some Real “Good News.”

Hotels aren’t putting so many Bibles into guest rooms.

My questions:

Why would someone want to sit inside and read a Bible (or any book, really), when the Great Book of Nature is all around them?  Would you sit inside and read an ancient book while staying in Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Smoky Mountains, or any place with Nature nearby?

And, if you ARE a believer and you love your holy book, wouldn’t you just carry your God-Pages around with you while travelling?  Do you need a hotel manager to loan you a copy?

“The percentage of hotels that offer religious materials in rooms has dropped significantly over the last decade, from 95% of hotels in 2006 to 48% this year.

Among the reasons for the change, according to industry experts, is a need to appeal to younger American travelers who are less devout than their parents or grandparents and to avoid offending international travelers such as Muslims or Buddhists.”

And why Bibles in these public places anyway?  Here’s what Gideons is out to do in their quest to make the Whole World Christian where everyone reads only One Book:

“Bibles started to become a hotel standard in the late 1800s when three traveling businessmen founded Gideons International with a plan to spread the Gospels by placing the Bible in hotel rooms across the country.

The nonprofit group now has about 270,000 members in 200 countries. In its latest fiscal year, Gideon International spent about $100 million to distribute Bibles to hotels, prisons, hospitals and other locations, about the same amount as in 2015, according to the group’s financial statements.

Jeff Pack, Gideons International’s director of communications, said he isn’t sure why the STR survey shows a decline in religious material in hotel rooms, considering that the distribution of Bibles by his group hasn’t dropped.

“The decline of religious materials in hotels, as cited in the survey, is reflective of increasing secularism and independence in the world,” he said. “This has resulted in an erosion of spiritual awareness.”

OR, there is “an erosion of spiritual awareness” because too many are thinking of other worlds and too busy proselytizing and too busy reading “spiritual books” to give a care about the goodness, beauty and wonder of this world.

I’ll never really understand the Bible Believers (or Qur’an Believers. . .or any other Book Believers)

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Everyone Reads their Holy Book in the Same Light

"Our" Sun on 11-11-11

“Our” Sun on 11-11-11

Probably the original God, Religion and Scripture. . .

New Video of “our” Sun


Another Baptism in Heaven

Looking Up at Water Coming Down

Looking Up at Water Coming Down

Splashing on me and the camera.

Waterfalls have never been something to simply see or hear. . .but to touch. . .to participate in.

Almost “spiritual”. . .like a “baptism”. . .like “heaven”. . .but why call it anything?


Noah and the Incredible Floating Zoo

A cute story. . .or not!

A cute story. . .or not!

I still find it hard to see how some ancient stories continue to inspire in our modern world.  This is especially true with age-old tales such as Noah and his floating zoo.  Since most people, and perhaps most Jews, Christians and Muslims, never read these stories after childhood, I urge a re-reading.  Really!  A Secular Chaplain is inviting you to read the story of Noah again, or for the first time.  Seriously, read it.

But be careful; be warned:  Rather than inspiring faith, this story may actually do the opposite.

Hint:  Pay attention to the Divine Zoo Keeper. . .and Keep a close Eye on the Sky!

What prompts this invitation is of course the new movie, Noah, now flooding our screens (sorry) and already raising storms of controversy that threaten to drown out reasonable conversation as only these tales can do (sorry, and sorry again).

I may rent the movie eventually, but I’ve read the book (The Book) and just read the story again.

I see that Russell Crowe and his beautiful mind (with Jennifer Connelly’s mind, again!) is starring–crows being one of the “clean” animals saved on the ark.  I’m amused by the producer’s attempt at a disclaimer on the “official site”:

The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.

A quick scan of that essence, those values and the integrity of this “cornerstone of faith for millions” (whoa, the drama over the drama is quite. . .dramatic!) is a revelation. . .well, it’s not pretty.

Let us turn to Genesis (soon to be Genesis-ide), chapters 5 through 10.  Now, pay attention: for a story to take up to 6 chapters in Sacred Scripture is exceptional!  Six chapters of God’s Holy Word centering on One Person and One Main Story:  Noah.

Highlights (since most of you won’t really go read the story. . .I know, I know):

-Noah is 600 years young (he dies at 950, so he’s just a youngster here)

-He’s “righteous” and “walks with God” (though we aren’t told what that means–where do they walk?)

-The rest of the Brand New World just created by the Lord of the Universe is suddenly “wicked” and “evil” and “violent.”  The “thoughts of their hearts” were inclined to “evil.”  (this isn’t explained either. . .do hearts have “thoughts”?)

God is sorry (the original says that God “repents”–He’s VERY Sorry). . .sorry He made the earth and the people and everything

Rather than FIX this mess, God decides to “destroy” and “blot out”. . . “Everything shall DIE!”  (the first pre-meditated Genocide in history)

-Noah is told to build a boat with divine blueprints, get his family on board, gather up all birds and animals and beetles, male and female. . .it starts to RAIN.

FLOOD!  Rains for 40 days and nights. . .and the water covers the earth for a YEAR!  (a long time to be on a boat with all those animals. . .let alone your family!  Remember, no books, no television, no iPad, no phones!  This is NOT a cruise ship!)

-A CROW is sent out first (actually a Raven, but appropriately like a crow, a Crowe).  Then the dove story. . .etc.

-First thing Noah does after saving all those animals?  Rounds up the best ones and. . .Burns Them!  Yes, that’s right, “offers them up as burnt offerings” to the Lord.  You would think God would NOT be happy, but God actually LIKES the smell of barbecue!  Odd.

-Noah and his family are “blessed” and told to make lots of family (remember, these are brothers and sisters and brother’s wives and daughters, etc. . . .let’s not think about that, ok?  Well, YES, let’s think about it because it’s what the holy book is telling us, right?)

-Finally, for this secular summary, God puts His “bow” in the sky (why He has a bow isn’t explained–target practice with arrows?).  But WHY does God put a Rainbow in the Sky?  To remind People of Faith that He won’t destroy the earth again?  To do something Pretty we can take pictures of and say, Wow, that’s Beautiful?

No.  God puts His bow in the sky to Remind HIM, to remind HIMSELF, never again to flood the earth and destroy all life!  Think about that.  No, better not!

Here’s the God that the Story of Noah presents:

-Plays favorites

-Makes HUGE mistakes

-Feels Real Bad about His Mess, but the “best option” He can think of is:  KILL Everything that Lives! (now, think here:  He is unable or unwilling to find a better option. . . can YOU or I think of a Better Option?)

-Loves the smell of barbecued endangered species! (“I admit I’m powerless over that intoxicating Grilled Meat!”)

-Needs a “sign” in the sky to remind Himself NOT to destroy All Life again!  (“I am powerless over genocide and extermination. . .I am powerless over genocide and extermination. . .”).

Ok, so THIS Story teaches values and integrity, standing as  a cornerstone of faith for millions?

The Story of Noah

Read it.

(final note:  some of my Liberal Progressive Believer Friends wave this off as “a Myth.”  Ok, I learned that way back in seminary too.  But it’s in The Book; this Myth is in Scripture.  What do you DO with it?  Do you agree with the “values” in this?  Do you believe in the God presented in this story?  If not, and you remove these six chapters from “inspired scripture,” what’s next?  Why would someone even take seriously a book, “God’s Book,” that presents a story like this?  You can’t say this is “only the old testament” because the “new” testament has as much if not more mythology.  And, honestly now, isn’t most Theology actually based on Mythology?  If you admit that, what exactly is “Faith”?)


The Resurrection of Henry Thoreau

It’s always good to see more “Scriptures of Nature” being read around the world.

Live Simple


Filling Our Minds

What are you filling your mind with?  Scripture verses?  Prayers?  Hopes for another world?

This may give us a hint for better use of brain space. . .

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Nature’s Chapter and Verse

“I take more intense delight from reading the power and goodness of God from ‘the things which are made’ than from the Bible.”  ~John Muir

Chris-Highland-Images-Natur

Welcome to the first page of the oldest and youngest scripture.

This Genesis will lead to Revelation. . .the revealing truth of Reason and honest, open-minded experience that cannot be contained in any printed book.

Natural-Bible-path

The Natural Bible is not only an open path.  This “Book” is an open-source that organically grows from a naturalistic worldview without reference, concordance or appeal to super-natural sources.  Any “authorities” referenced in The Natural Bible draw their knowledge and wisdom primarily through investigations within the natural cosmos and their viewpoints are not only open to question but require verification and common confirmation.  A radical authenticity leads each to accept a role in authorship.  No one is a spectator on the field study team or merely an observer in the writing of this book.

The alternative to The Natural Bible is no longer justifiable or necessary.  In fact, any alternative is not a viable alternative in our time.  Why?  Any other claimed “holy book” put forth for rational discussion and human collaboration and corroboration must by definition be The Un-natural Bible.  This is not only foolish, but unhelpful, unhealthy and nonsensical as well as simply dangerous faced with the complexities of contemporary inter-related communities of all species. 

Therefore, The Natural Bible remains open and cannot be closed; it must be read in the open air (in “the light of day” as John Burroughs put it) by any serious, rational person not because it is required for “salvation,” or to connect with a supernatural world or be subservient to a superior being, nor is this book read in order to obtain a fictitious and delusional  extra-terrestrial (that is, mystical) knowledge.  The book that is wide open before us all must be read, even by the most illiterate person, because it is simply “the cosmos as we know it and will understand it”–open to exploration and discovery, the required text for every enrolled learner in the great universal classroom where we are all students–students who are either alert and delighted in the Universe or apathetic and asleep at our desks. 

The Natural Bible is presented in the words of naturalists, philosophers, poets and thinkers from many lands.  However, it cannot be forgotten that this “bible,” this book, is The Book of Nature, being written as we speak–as we read.  In this profound sense, each of us is fully capable of presenting the “scripture,” “the Word” as we are active participants in the environment (the surrounding circle) of Life and we are fundamentally virescent (greening) creatures.  Our virescence in mind and body makes us characters on the page, bound with the red-stream-laced leather of our own throbbing skin, thrown open and out onto the landscape of earth and a spacescape of the stars.  We are part; we are particle; we are participant. 

The Natural Bible is not static but electric.  It is charged with creative energy as well as the power to destroy, even as it is extravagant in an abundant resilience to make all things new, over and over, again and again.  Yet, naturally, it contains no promises of an afterlife or a heavenly world beyond.  This Book is as green as we are, and as brown and black and red and white.  It is the living adventure of the emergent text of our lives.  

A few mystics such as Jean-Pierre deCaussade in France spoke of the holy spirit writing scriptures now, today, in our world.  Muir echoed this, from a non-mystic perspective, when he said he looked to Nature as his Bible, not to teach us religion or theology but to open us to the wonders of Life in the wide-open classroom and sanctuary of the en-viron-ment:  the encircling surroundings of our earthly home.

But why a “Bible” at all?  When the Scottish American radical reformer Frances Wright said, in 1829, that “the true Bible is the book of Nature” and called for the re-opening of churches as “halls of science” what was the point?  I think the point is as old and as vitally relevant as life on earth.  An evolution is in the making and cannot be stopped.  Sometimes we have to use some of the old language to communicate the adaptations, the natural selections of new species of knowledge.  The old bibles, scriptures from all parts of the globe, pointed to an alternate reality, a super-natural realm or kingdom where the best of our natures resides.  Nature and the natural processes of the natural world present us with the original and most revolutionary “living bible” there ever was or could be.  Let’s call it a “sacred” book, if we choose; a scripture if we mean something to honor and respect and seek out for “spiritual guidance.”  If it makes more sense to refer to this “book” as a textbook instead of a bible, so be it. 

This is ultimately and immediately more about a classroom than a church, a creed, a confession or a clergy-generated kind of experience.  This is the Word (logos, reason) writ larger than any book or religion could ever hold.  And the Natural Bible is not something to believe, as the old worn-out and irrelevant creeds insisted.  It is the Universe at face value, its countless faces unfolding page by page at every moment, endlessly interesting, ceaselessly domestic and economical (in the root meanings of those terms).  We are at home in this book.  It contains, for better or worse, both our fiction and our non-fiction, our poetry and our prose, as well as our music–our cacaphonies and our symphonies.  Where will the next lyrics and scores direct us?  What will the next chapters open to us?  What music halls and libraries are ours to wander!  It is quite wonderfully the greatest story yet to be told.